Inside Athena: Giving Purpose for Memory Care Residents at The Summit At Plantsville

Inside Athena: Giving Purpose for Memory Care Residents at The Summit At Plantsville

PLANTSVILLE, C.T. — Anette Urban never thought her career in healthcare would land in memory care.

She joined The Summit At Plantsville at the end of 2022 as the Memory Care Program Coordinator, but her journey with caring for others is decades in the making.

Anette and her mother, Birgit

Up until her son died in 2007, she was his caregiver. After he passed away, she came to vacation in the States, where she met her future husband. She moved to Connecticut in 2008 from Denmark. She began volunteering at the Newington Senior Center and was eventually offered a job. Urban then applied for a recreation position at an assisted living and landed in the dementia unit… she fell in love with it.

“I try to make people happy,” she said when asked what she does in her role. “I try to be there with my residents and make every moment count whether it’s during activities or just doing their nails.”

While she has been working in memory care for some time, it is something she now has personal experiences with as her mother was diagnosed with dementia in August 2023.

Urban wants residents to know they matter and to give them purpose. While the residents may not always remember the activities and events put on, she said they will always remember how they feel.

“You have to tweak your programming and some are not capable of doing certain things but for them, it’s more the sensory. For some, they may not even like being in a big room with a lot of lights and a lot of people, they may like a more quiet space,” she said. “I have seen many many times non-verbal residents start singing songs. It could be church songs. Music is stored a different way… in our emotions.”

The Summit At Plantsville is home to many residents diagnosed with dementia and Urban wants to make it feel like so. When she first joined the center, she updated the memory care unit to make it feel more personal.

Urban also loves to educate others on the impacts of dementia, especially families.

“I know about caregiving… and the emotions that go through and I know with family dynamics when someone in your family is sick, it changes your family,” Urban said.

She recently started sharing her knowledge and experiences on The Summit At Plantsville’s social media and website. Navigating the Journey is a blog Urban writes where she touches on different subjects from perception to ways to interact to her own journey.

“I love writing and I love sharing my experience from different angles,” she said. “Caregiving is very very hard, so knowing you’re not alone.”

Urban shares that families play a crucial part in the journey and it’s important for them to understand the disease.

“Anette’s knowledge and understanding of Alzheimer’s, and related dementias, enhance her compassion and empathy for residents that reside on Meadowview and for their families,” Director of Therapeutic Recreation Barbara Blau said.

Urban enjoys seeing the residents smile and giving them a purpose.

“If I feel I made a difference, that makes me happy,” she said. “For me, it’s not about the actual recreation part, the activity part, it’s the connecting between me and the residents.”

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May 23, 2024 A Healthier Approach To Caring, Inside Athena